Rush Street Chicago: Yesterday and today

My aunt always told me that my grandmother Amelia owned part of Rush Street in the early 1900’s. She said it was located near the Rush street bridge. Though I had heard this story as a child, wasn’t sure what to ask and my Aunt died in the late 1990’s. Other family members have never confirmed the reality. That was the first time I heard about Rush Street.

It wasn’t until the 70’s and early 1980’s that I heard about Rush with an invitation to go party and drink. This was the Las Vegas of Chicago even more popular in the early years before I was able to drink.  The most popular places I visited was Faces but I probably spent more time on Division Street at the Original Mothers and Butch McGuires, the latter that opened in 1961.

The following describes some of the popular places on Rush; yesterday and today:

Whiskey Go Go is still a nightclub in California and has opened the doors for many including the Doors, Van Halen and Steppenwolf. The first opened in 1958 at the corner of Rush and Chestnut in Chicago.

The Backroom a great jazz and blues venue and probably one of the oldest jazz club that began in the 1960’s. It continued on into the 70’s and 1980’s. Musicians specializing mostly in jazz but also touching on soul, funk, R&B and blues, play on an elevated stage on the east side of the room and under a most impressive sculpture created from brass horns, to match the column-like structure that looks like a coatrack made of horns near the southeast corner of the room.

The Happy Medium  was built in 1960, located at Rush and Delaware, which was a combination theater and disco. Helen Reddy actually stared at the club. The owners, George and Oscar Marienthal, also owned Mister Kellys, also on Rush and the London House. The London house opened downtown Chicago in 1946 and created the popularity of jazz musicians including Ramsey Lewis.

Punchinellos was a theatre bar and again celebrities such as Barry Manilow and Della Reese would frequent the bar.

Mister Kellys was launched in 1956 and was truly the leading example of night club celebrity elegance, combining music with comedy, which included the beginnings of Bill Cosby, Bette Midler, Woody Allen and Barbra Steisand. Mr. Kellys was restaurant that also featured the best steak and their famous green goddess salad.

Rush up another bar where many talk of meeting Todd Rundgren and Frank Zappa.

Faces opened in the early 1970’s and you could become a member of the club for 50 dollars. I went to Faces a couple of times in the lates 70’s and not sure how I got in, but it was loud though fun for dancing compared to many clubs in Chicago. This was supposedly the best place to meet and greet.

Today,  some of the best bars and restaurants include the following:

Pippins: A great Irish pub with an excellent hotdog, serving from the Downtown Dogs next door, and an extensive beer selection. Pippins has been a part of the Rush Street scene for over 45 years and offers a very authentic Irish experience.

Hugos Frog Bar: Also located in Naperville, Hugos offers excellent mussels and oysters on the half shell including an expansive wine list sharing with the iconic Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse. Gibsons is the first restaurant group to be awarded its own USDA Prime Certification

Tavern on Rush: A great bar and restaurant with a DJ located in the heart of Rush street. They are known for the best calamari and excellent horseshoe bar along with split level seating.

Jellyfish:  Located on the second floor across the street from Hugos and Gibsons, this is a great place for enjoying the cuisines of several countries that include Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. From 3-6pm, you can experience signature cocktails during happy hours.

Wisconsin Dells Sunday dinner

 

“Put on you gloves,” Mom said. And she wasn’t referring to my woolly mittens during winter’s blast. They were dainty white gloves that ended at the wrist, tapered fingers, usually with a pearl closure. It was summer at our favorite vacation spot, the Wisconsin Dells, and we were going to a grand place for Sunday dinner.

Living on the south side of Chicago, we could drive in our Vista Cruiser since airline tickets were expensive in the 1960’s. Though we switched up motels several times on various trips, we never stopped visiting the Tommy Barlett Water Show and we never stopped dressing in our best for dinner. White gloves, a small grown up white clutch purse and, of course, a neatly styled dress; nothing less was expected for the occasion.

Just minutes from Wisconsin Dells located in Mirror Lake State park, you wind through the beautiful woods to the Hoffman Brothers restaurant built in 1953, situated right on the shore of Mirror Lake, Ishnala. My father loved the restaurant built into nature where giant Norway pines grow through the roof. Though only a child under 12, our first stop at the restaurant with my parents was the Arrowhead Bar built in the shape of an arrowhead with a breathtaking view of the bluffs.  Here is where we waited for our seat in the dining room and I could actually sit at the bar in those days. Served like an adult, I graciously sipped the famous kiddy cocktail with maraschino cherries, loaded with sugar, before being seated for dinner.

The house specialty was prime rib but I always got to choose a steak, medium rare, regardless of the cost. The rustic but elegant surroundings in red offered that reverent experience of unbroken time with my parents so long ago. Both now both have passed; not able to tell their daughter how proud they are of her well-practiced manners, always reminding her how she will grow into a lovely woman someday.

But to carry on tradition, I took my own children to this supper club that boosted over 50 years of popularity.  My son and daughter, pre-teen in age at the time, fought as usual, not quite as enamored as I was and were more content with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries then prime rib. Their unpracticed manners or should I say complete rudeness did not go unnoticed. And no, white gloves, were not a part of their Sunday apparel. The thought of professional class and style, ties, sports jackets and a dress could only be described in my warped imagination. Needless to say, I was disappointed at the outcome of our visit.

However, years later we found a picture together of what I thought, a failed excursion that I had quickly snapped for posterity, gobbling their Ishnala food. It was remembered fondly that this was the restaurant where their grandparents, had rekindled their love for family. Imagine that, they had paid attention to the intent after all; an unexpected response to the trip that I thought a waste of time and money.

As a result, they are trying to save their pennies for their own Sunday dinner that offers timeless beauty and what will hopefully be for them,  another excursion of cherished family memories.

Look to see if that favorite restaurant, park, even movie house is still thriving and insist on taking them for a visit. Though popcorn may be the only immediate source of your children or even grandchildren’s concern, they may surprise you in the long run.

Beverly Hills Chicago,then and now

Located on the southwestern edge of Chicago, my mother grew up in Beverly during the early 1920’s and 1930’s moving to Deland, Florida for her high school years in 1935. Her father worked for Illinois Bell and she would meet him at the 95th street train station Rock Island Railroad and walk home together along Longwood drive. There home was tiny compared to most. Father was in an executive position at Illinois Bell but a frugal man.

In the 1960’s, it was Beverly where my Aunt worked at Morris B Sachs on the corner of 95th and Western. It was in Beverly on 95th where my Mother bought my first French walnut bedroom set with desk and hutch that I still have.  Wilson Jump was one of the many vanished furniture stores.

My best friend and I would ride the bus down 95th west, passing Beverly, crossing Western into Evergreen Park where we exited into the shopping mall which is still there but stores have changed. I can remember visiting Mary Jane Shoes, Lyttons, Chas A Stevens and,of courses Carson which is still there but remodeled. My aunt worked there too.

Unfortunately, I also remember Beverly where my fathers funeral and wake took place in 1967 and the funeral home is now a health food store.

Today, Beverly is still a beautiful area with street lamps trimming 95th street, its major thorough fare. Beverly features prestigious, architecturally designed homes which includes the famous Frank Lloyd Wright and George Washington Maher. Many are featured on the historic Longwood Drive where your will now find the Beverly Unitarian Church which was once a resident castle built in 1886.  This house at 10200 S. Longwood Drive was built in 1890 by Horace Horton, the owner of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.

Open since 1942, Top Notch Beefburger is another great place to stop for a burger and a shake. The burgers are ground daily and come on a toasted bun.  Oreo shakes are an excellent choice along with fresh, cut fries.

If you are just looking to have dessert, at Western and 92nd street is a place your should never miss during the spring and summer months; the Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream that opens March 4th.  Josep Sapp worked as a Buick mechanic by day and operated a small rainbow cone ice cream shop in 1926, the same location it is today.

At the time, this area was not considered Chicago, however, there were century old cemeteries that Chicagoan’s liked to visit and guess were they would stop for a cone on their way back to the city. The original rainbow cone consists of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet.

Best of eating in Andersonville Chicago

Andersonville’s began in the 1850’s as a Swedish neighborhood and after the Chicago Fire, the entire commercial strip was dominated by Swedish businesses,  Today, Andersonville is comprised of unique, locally owned businesses of many cultures that add a strong sense of community to the neighborhood and has been known as another Mayberry, similar to the town in the Andy Griffith Show. Committed to encouraging unity in the neighborhood and hosting some of the best restaurants in the Chicago area, Andersonville prides itself in being known for its excellent service and prized cuisine.

Anteprima

On  north Clark Avenue, Anteprima offers a delectable and changing menu of wonderful Italian home style cooking.  Offering reasonable three course menus , Anteprima buys from local and organic producers whenever possible beginning every meal with rosemary salted bread sticks and ending with a dreamy chocolate hazel nut tart.  Enjoy beautifully presented pastas or break from the ordinary lunch with grilled octopus.  To compliment your dinner, high-quality Italian wines are available in carafes so you can have more than one glass.

m Henry

Looking for a great breakfast, brunch or lunch, m. henry offers an intercontinental breakfast served with a fresh baked muffin, scone or warm baguette and petite fruit salad served all day. However, known for their fried eggs sandwiches, m. Henry offers a wonderful organic coffee menu and a dandelion, shallot and leek omelet served with house potatoes. Some have also praised the quiche as being the best as well as perfect pancakes.

Big Jones

Inspired by the American South, Big Jones is known for its famous Southern heirloom cooking with Chef and Co Owner Paul Febribach who has been featured on Chicago radio with his recipes published in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-times and the Chicago Magazine just to name a few. Most recently Fehribach has been honored as a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Big Jones gives a taste of New Orleans by celebrating with Mardi Gras classics such as buttery king cake and more.

Vincent

Cozy bar and biestro, Vincent is another great place to dine on Balmoral Ave. Adam Grandt began his career at the award winning Carlos Restaurant hired as Executive Chef at Sage Grill in 2008. Now his dynamic style adds nothing but accolades for his innovative presentations at Vincent.  Mussels in saffron or any style is one of diners favorites including big burgers and orange creme sickle mousse for dessert.  Mixed drinks are excellent along with exceptional classic meals.

Antica Pizzeria

Charming and an inexpensive experience, Antic Pizzeria  offers delicious Neapolitan pizza and menu choices that include tender calamari and house made desserts that include tiramisu. Mario Rapisarda (Cocco Pazzo, Spiaggia) and Faris Faycurry (Dylan’s Tavern, Villa Nova) combined their 25 years of expertise and created the Andersonville neighborhood’s first ever wood burning pizza oven.  Antica delivers and helps families prepare special events or create a wine tasting.

Hopleaf Bar

Awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourdman for 2016, Hopleaf Bar can also be a haven for great food. With a Belgian-inspired kitchen, Hopleaf offers a great mussels and frites experiences as well as an extensive collection of beers.  The first Monday of every month features Belgian Fried Chicken served with a Kwak in its famous glass. The Chicago Traveler praises HopLeaf  for its grilled cheese that is filled with cashew butter, cheese and fig jam, pan-fried on sourdough bread.

Hamburger Mary’s

When visiting Andersonville, Hamburger Mary’s is a must with perfectly cooked burgers and a variety of toppings to select. The fried ice cream is a great conclusion to any meal at this bar and grille. Hamburger Mary’s received the Good Neighbor Award in 2013 for being the business that best exemplifies the spirit of community support and customer service. Hamburger Mary’s franchises began in San Francisco and their motto is you are what you eat only offering the best in healthy ingredients.

Andies

Butternut squash soup, cucumber mint salad and a gluten-free winter risotto are some of the delectable’s waiting for you at Andies Restaurant. A delicious Mediterranean dining experience, Chef Andie Tamras brings some of the most worthy recipes from Tunisia and Morocco. A favorite for over 30 years, Andies plants their own vegetable garden as well as herbs such as basil, thyme and cilantro. Andies gives back by contributing to community service organizations such as Care for Real and Sarah’s circle

Jin Ju

The heart of Andersonville cuisine also offers traditional Korean dishes in a romantic setting with dimly lit candlelight. Jin Ju offers barbeque pork spare ribs marinated in a spicy sweet red pepper sauce and a great seaweed soup with scallions in a mussel broth. Their Mandoo soup is wonderful with dumplings, scallions and egg in a clear broth . Jin Ju also offers private events and can customize the menu to suit your party’s needs.

Lady Gregory’s

Floor to ceiling windows bring a passionate beauty to Lady Gregory’s in Andersonville. Inspired by Irish Victorian author, Lady Augusta Gregory quoted as the greatest living Irishwoman, this Irish bar and restaurant  is acclaimed for its lobster mac and shepherd’s pie. Also know for a whiskey selection of 300 and 100 beer s. Lady Gregory’s also provides an entire separate gluten free menu as well as a kids menu.  You can also order online for a curbside pickup. A true Celtic experience and a distinctive place to visit on Saint Patrick’s Day.

New Years Eve in Chicago

As a child at home, it was about watching the ball drop in New York at 11 Central on TV and then turning on whatever Chicago hosted an hour later for a second New Year’s eve celebration. Sometimes I didn’t make it past 11 pm. On occasion, we would go to a friends house to spend the night. I would play with the other kids upstairs and of course, the parents would do the unspeakable…have fun…dance to the sounds of Mitch Miller in their finished basement.

Sometimes other shows were on that hosted Guy Lombardo’s Band playing Auld Lang Syne; his final New Year’s Eve appearance took place in New York, 1976. Not many may remember him.  And if Guy Lombardo traveled to Chicago, many celebrated bringing in the New Year at the Aragon Ballroom to listen to his orchestra, which was a powerhouse attraction in the 1940s.

Aragon is still in existence today at West Lawrence Ave in Uptown Chicago. The Aragon was known as one of the most elegant ballrooms in the world and has a capacity of 5,000 still offering live entertainment.

If my parents went out for a New Years Eve extravaganza, it was also to the beautiful Edgewater Beach Hotel, a resort hotel complex on Lake Michigan that featured such stars as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. Other new year celebrations included live music at the Willowbrook Ballroom, that had a history of over 80 years entertainment before it was destroyed by fire just a couple of years. A variety of big bands would take the stage for dancing events that occurred on a 6,000 square foot dance floor.

Over the decades, restaurants, ballrooms and historic tradition have come and gone but for those who celebrate at home in front of their screens, you can still watch the ball drop in New York and catch other Chicago New Year’s festivities from all media, too numerous to mention. Certainly not on only four to eight channels back in the day.

Today, popular celebrations that have created timeless tradition in Chicago is a trip to Navy Pier where you can enjoy entertainment and family attractions. Navy Pier offers exquisite cruises along the lakefront with an amazing fireworks display on New Years Eve.

Reserve a table to celebrate New Years at a fine restaurant in Chicago that offers the best six course cuisine at the new West Loop, Bellemore. In the Western suburbs, you may want to try the most popular Meson Sabika in Naperville where you can enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner at this fine Spanish tapas restaurant.

Maybe your New Years Eve is just centered around pizza delivery, lots of wine and banging pots and pans in your yard with the little ones.  Regardless of how you spend the evening,hopefully, the New Year will bring to you nothing less than an abundance of health, happiness and peace.

Happy New Year!